In my own mind, I often come up with shorthand for certain ideas and emotions that I experience. For instance, in an earlier episode of “A Little Happier,” I described how in my mind, the phrase “juice story” stands for a big concept about how to be a more effective parent. (Here’s that episode if you want to listen to it.)
I have a phrase that I use when I’m thinking about a very certain kind of pleasure: the pleasure of doing work at a very high level of excellence, with people who are really, really good at their jobs.
I remember feeling this pleasure very acutely when I worked on the Yale Law Journal in law school, and also when I was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court. It’s exhilarating to be surrounded by excellence.
At that time, though, I didn’t have a phrase for it.
Recently, when I was working on my Four Tendencies video course with the brilliant Darrell Vesterfelt and his great team, I overheard him talking on the phone to someone during a break. I heard him say quietly, “This is going good, we’ll finish early. This is the varsity team.”
And I loved hearing that! And I knew exactly what he meant—I felt it too. And I felt so thrilled to be included on that team.
I recently was in a diner that was full of people, and yet all the staff was super-cheerful and efficient, not at all overwhelmed or irritated by the crowd. I could see that in fact, they were taking great pleasure in their team work, how efficiently tasks were being done, how graciously people were being served, how how flawlessly all the orders were being executed. They were doing great team work, and finding such gratification in what they were able to do together.
I love having a phrase for it, because I love that feeling: I love being part of, or witnessing, the work of a varsity team.